New $1M sports courts a slam dunk for Hawaii Convention Center

Updated: Sep. 28, 2017 at 5:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Convention Center's new wooden basketball court has a shiny look and smells of fresh lacquer.

Teri Orton, the general manager of the Hawaii Convention Center, says the new court will be used by the Los Angeles Clippers during this Saturday's Fan Fest, a free community event.

"I think it's great. We are going to have over three thousand people on Saturday enjoying an opportunity to meet the team," she said.

Each numbered section of the court snaps into place. While regular courts take less time to put together, the nicer, wooden basketball court takes seven hours to fit together.

"Each section of this floor is like laying down pallets, so it's like a puzzle," said Orton.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority gave the Hawaii Convention Center approval to spend $1.1 million dollars to purchase the courts: 28 volleyball, 18 basketball and 11 futsal, or indoor soccer courts. Teams had expressed interest in coming to Hawaii for tournaments here, but were concerned about costs.

"The biggest common denominator that was driving them away from Hawaii was the cost to ship courts," said Orton.

In February, the new courts got their first use for a volleyball tournament. When not in use, they're stored in the convention center.

So far, the new courts have been a wild success. Group sports bookings have brought in more than $2.6 million in tax revenues since the courts were unveiled, so the million-dollar investment more than paid for itself.

"I can tell you, once the word got out, we have had 4 tournaments last year, 6 on the books for next year ... we are signing multi-year contracts," says Orton.

The once-untapped sports market has become part of the turnaround for the convention center. After years of operating in the red, suffering $3.5 million to $4 million in losses each year, the Hawaii Convention Center finally saw black in 2015. This year, it's looking at $1 million in profits.

"It's a market segment that we were never in and it's generating revenue," said Orton.

The convention center is working with the hotel industry to bring in tournament bookings during slower months. The new courts can also accommodate a slew of other sports including gymnastics, martial arts, table tennis, dance and cheer.

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